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News: 11 December 2017


Focus on Lighthouses
The first recorded lighthouse was the Pharos of Alexandria. Built in 3rd Century BC by Ptolemy, the light was provided by huge fires burnt at the top of the 150 metre high tower. In Britain the oldest lighthouse is believed to be the Old Lighthouse in the grounds of Dover Castle, built by the Romans.

Lighthouses, due to their locations, present some of the most dramatic photographs on the Images of England website. There are over a hundred lighthouses listed on the site, some accompanied by photographs. Here, just two lighthouses are featured to illustrate their fascinating history.

One of the oldest lighthouses to feature on the Images of England site is on St Catherine's Hill, Isle of Wight. Locally known as the �Pepper Pot� due to its shape, it is a rare example of a medieval lighthouse. Dating back to the early 14th century, legend says that a local businessman, Walter de Godeton, built it. He was found guilty of stealing wine destined for a monastery from a shipwreck and was ordered to build the lighthouse and an oratory to prevent more ships being wrecked. The oratory, no longer standing, was used by a monk to say mass for the souls of those lost at sea. Responsibility for tending the lighthouse would have fallen to the same monk.

Medieval Lighthouse, St Catherine's Hill, Isle of Wight - IoE number: 392680 © Rev Robert Rudd
Belle Tout Lighthouse, Beachy Head, East Sussex - IoE number: 293528 © Mr Michael Nash LRPS Another interesting lighthouse featured on the Images of England website is Belle Tout on top of the cliffs at Beachy Head, East Sussex. It was built in 1831 by the renowned Stevenson family who are credited with building most of the lighthouses in Scotland. Before Belle Tout a local vicar, disturbed by the number of shipwrecks, had carved a chamber in the cliffs and hung a lamp outside ready to go to the aid of sailors. A wooden lighthouse also stood on the site and it was this that Belle Tout replaced. In 1902 Belle Tout was itself replaced by another lighthouse at the base of the cliffs. This was not to be the end of its history though. During the Second World War it was used as an artillery target; the house next to it was destroyed. With the 300ft high cliffs at Beachy Head slowly crumbling into the sea and it looked as though Belle Tout was going to follow, but in 1999, the owner of the lighthouse had the whole structure moved back from the edge of the cliff, safeguarding it for the time being.

These are just two of the many lighthouses featured on the Images of England website. Each of them has its own fascinating history just waiting to be discovered. Wherever you are in the country, Images of England allows you to access photographs and list descriptions of these amazing structures and launch into further research.

To search for more lighthouses you will need to register to access the Advanced Search facility. Under Advanced Search choose �building type� and enter �lighthouse�. This will allow you to view the lighthouses currently on the Images of England site.
 
 
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